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New York Federal Reserve: Higher Health Costs, More Part-Time Workers from Obamacare

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$20 bills inside a pill.
$20 bills inside a pill.

Obamacare puts employers in a bind, two New York Federal Reserve surveys show. Employers' health care costs continue to rise, and the health care law is driving them to hire more part-time labor, CNBC reports:

The median respondent to the N.Y. Fed surveys expects health coverage costs to jump by 10 percent next year, after seeing a similar percentage increase last year.

Not all firms surveyed said the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to blame for those cost increases to date. But a majority did, and the percentage of businesses that predicted the ACA will hike such costs next year is even higher than those that said it did this year.

Obamacare's higher costs will cascade down to consumers. The surveys found that "36 percent of manufacturers and 25 percent of service firms said they were hiking prices in response" to Obamacare's effects.

The Empire State Manufacturing Survey polls New York State manufacturers, and the Business Leaders Survey polls service firms in the New York Federal Reserve District.

A June Gallup poll found that four in ten Americans are spending more on health care in 2014 than in 2013.

Let's dig into the numbers.

When asked, "How would you say the ACA has affected the amount your firm is paying in health benefit costs per worker this year?" More than 73% of manufacturers and 58% of service firms said the health care law has increased costs this year. 

Companies are also more pessimistic about Obamacare next year. Over 80% of manufacturers and 74% of service firms expect health plan costs to increase in 2015.

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New York Federal Reserve Empire State Manufacturing and Business Leaders Surveys
New York Federal Reserve Empire State Manufacturing and Business Leaders Surveys
Source: New York Federal Reserve.


Employers were also asked what effects Obamacare is having on their labor forces. Over 21% of manufacturers and nearly 17% of service firms say they reduced the number of employees because of the law, while only about 2% of each have hired more workers. What's more, nearly 20% of both manufacturers and service firms say that Obamacare has pushed them to increase their proportion of part-time workers, but just under 5% of each type of firm said they have lowered them. Presumably this is due to the perverse incentives from Obamacare's employer mandate.

This data fits with research from the Atlanta Federal Reserve that found that since the recession, 25% of firms have a greater share of part-time workers, while only 8% have a lower share. This data also fits with anecdotes from around the country of employers saying that they're hiring more part-time workers because of Obamacare.

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New York Federal Reserve Empire State Manufacturing and Business Leaders Surveys
New York Federal Reserve Empire State Manufacturing and Business Leaders Surveys
Source: New York Federal Reserve.

 

The sad truth is the health care law is pushing higher health costs onto employers and incentivizing them to hire more part-time workers. Despite passing a law in 2010 loaded with rules, regulations, mandates, and taxes, health care reform is needed more than ever. For solutions that that will control health care costs, improve quality, and expand access, check out the U.S. Chamber's Health Care Solutions Council report.

Follow Sean Hackbarth on Twitter at @seanhackbarth and the U.S. Chamber at @uschamber.

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